It's not everyday that a new hotel opens in Houston, especially a towering four-star version that's not downtown, but instead is betting on the continued boom on the west side. It's the Westin Houston Memorial City, the first Westin in Houston since the twin hotels in the Galleria were renamed as part of the new brand in 1984.
The Westin is certainly focusing on making access convenient for its guests, with skybridges to both the new Memorial City Memorial Hermann Medical Center and Memorial City Mall. The incredible 570,000-square-foot tower has 267 guest rooms, including 25 suites.
The space in unlike any other Westin in Houston — yes, I'm thinking of the dated duo at the Galleria. The ceiling soars in the lobby, with a modern, three-story, wood-and-glass staircase that leads to 30,000-square-feet of conference and special event space.
And Westin can boast of having one of the rarest luxuries in the city — an 18th floor infinity pool with panoramic skyline views. The same floor holds the Westin's spa and gym, which includes "meditative yoga spaces." (Is this something that people are doing now? Because that's pretty fabulous.)
Downstairs the Trattoria Il Mulino also opened Thursday, the fourth slightly more casual Trattoria concept from NYC's classic Il Mulino. The Trattoria chefs are also doing all the cooking for room service and lounge menus, and to be brief, the restaurant delivers with above-average Italian classics. Trattoria has a comfortably chic bar and lounge space, but there's an additional spot across the lobby called the 024 Lounge for later nights.
The Starwood brand has clearly imbued the new Westin with a bit of the modern style so evident in their W Hotels brand, albeit a less showy version. The Westin Houston Memorial City should be serious competition for CityCentre's Hotel Sorella, and may even draw some away from the overcrowded Galleria area.
Which makes me wonder if the opening of the Westin is one more step in Memorial City's plan to challenge the Galleria. They've already added The Cheesecake Factory, and rumors are swirling that Memorial City is trying to nab H&M and Neiman Marcus, which has been absent from the tony west side since the closure of the former Town & Country Mall location in 2006.